Friday, February 15, 2019

Review - Emiline: Knight in Training

Emiline: Knight in Training
by Kimberli Johnson
Date: 2019
Publisher: Oni Press
Reading level: C
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

In the tradition of classic children's books such as Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit comes a charming children's story about learning to read, told as a beautiful watercolor graphic novel!

Emiline is learning how to be a knight. There are many skills that knights need: sword fighting, unicorn riding, and PB&J eating! While Emiline is very good at these, she has a hard time reading. But when fixing a dangerous situation means Emiline must read some magic words, she discovers that with practice, curiosity, and help from her friends, she can improve at reading and save the day!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'm not the audience for this book, so I don't know how it would actually be received by young kids with dyslexia. There does seem to be quite a bit of text in a book that's supposed to be for those who have difficulty reading, and some of the fantasy words and names might be kind of tricky.

The illustrations are quite lovely, and I can see why there's the comparison to Beatrix Potter's work in the synopsis. I really don't have much of a complaint with the illustrations. They're much more muted than I'm used to seeing in graphic novels, but they're pretty nonetheless.

I think, though, that I'm hesitating over the plot of the book, which has Emiline and her knight class moving a nest of dragon eggs. I don't think that's a good message to be sending to kids. The dragon laid her eggs in a certain place for a reason; it's presumptuous and kind of arrogant for the humans to think they know better. They go and move all the eggs somewhere warmer. First of all, though we do see the dragon curled up with her eggs at the end, for most of the story we don't see the dragon at all, which leads me to assume that she didn't know where her eggs had gone. Second, maybe dragon eggs need cold to hatch. None of that is explained, and I don't like the idea that kids might come away thinking that they know better than nature's intelligence. I'd hate to see children trying to move bird or sea turtle eggs, thinking they're doing the creatures some kind of favour.

Unfortunately, this egg-moving thing is the main plot of the story. I would've rather seen something else happening. Maybe with the ogre that was mentioned. Or with the ice giants who were throwing rocks. There are plenty of things that could've been part of a story where Emiline needs to use her reading skills to save the day, without messing with the balance of nature.

So, while I can't wholeheartedly recommend this one, I wouldn't mind seeing what else the author can do with this character. Emiline and her friends could potentially have many more adventures. It's an interesting world that's been set up here, with ample opportunities for more stories. Maybe next time, though, they can leave the dragon eggs alone.

Thank you to NetGalley and Oni Press for providing a digital ARC.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 3/5
Illustration: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.75 out of 5

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